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University Technology Services

Frequently Asked Questions

How are these services related to MAC ID?
The MAC ID has been established as the common authentication identifier that participating services use to verify the identity of the individual. Accounts for various services (including MacConnect, VPN, web proxy service, etc.) are created when a MAC ID is established. These service accounts are authenticated using the MAC ID and password. For more information, see

How do I get a Mac ID?
Instructions to get a MAC ID for both students and faculty and staff are found at

How and why is off-campus access to the Internet controlled?
UTS provides connection to the world-wide Internet network through membership in the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network - ORION - which provides data communications services to support the research, education and technology transfer needs of its members, and Internet service providers (currently FibreWired Hamilton and Cogent Communications).

Access to the Internet network is available to all members of the University, provided they have been authenticated as members of the community. This is done in one of three ways:

  1. an individual logon-id on a registered computing system,
  2. a personal computer workstation, used by a single specified person, that is connected to the campus network at a specific on-campus location and has been granted permission to communicate off-campus directly (the IP address of a specific machine on campus is listed as having off-campus access permission),
  3. with a publicly accessible computer station, or access from off-campus via an Internet Service Provider (commercial ISP, as opposed to the McMaster modem pool), the web browser can be configured to use the McMaster web proxy server, and to request the user's MAC ID and password.

Terms and Conditions are imposed by the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and operating organizations of the external peer networks (e.g. ORION, CA*Net) in which McMaster participates in order to gain off-campus connectivity. Some extracts from on of our current ISPs (FibreWired Hamilton) are displayed in the Code of Conduct For Computer and Network Users . They preclude anonymous use of the Internet, such as might occur when using a web browser, unless authenticated through some type of McMaster account, as described in this document.

How do I obtain off-campus access for a machine in my office?
Systems connected to the campus network are capable of connecting to off-campus sites (e.g. the Internet) directly, unless they have been explicitly blocked from doing so.

It may be desirable to prevent certain systems for which you have accepted responsibility from accessing the Internet until the user identifies him/herself as a member of the McMaster community. Shared multiuser workstations, or workstations in publicly accessible areas, can be configured so that customers must invoke the web proxy service, in order to gain access to off-campus sites. Please refer to Block Off-Campus Access for details.

Alternatively, it may be preferable to configure public-area systems to use the MacConnect mechanism; if this seems appropriate or if you have questions, please contact a member of the Network group to discuss the possibility.

A web proxy account (MAC ID) provides a mechanism to authenticate an individual user using the MAC ID and password, before allowing access to internet web pages from the designated machine. Once the individual is authenticated as a McMaster person, the web proxy server then acts as an intermediary, transferring all traffic between the Internet and the campus network public machine for the duration of the session.

How can a web proxy service account facilitate access from off-campus?
A web proxy service account can be used to authenticate an individual account user, even when that user is not on campus; i.e. is connected using a commercial Internet Service Provider, and hence does not have a McMaster IP address (this is not necessary when using the campus modem pool, or MacOnline, as explained below).

This service, or VPN access, is required, for example, when using services from off-campus which are restricted to access only by systems with a McMaster IP address.

How do I access Library electronic resources?

The McMaster Library provides the LibAccess service to provide access to the Library's licensed electronic resources.

How do I configure my web browser to use the web proxy server?

Supported browser versions include Netscape 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 and higher. Configuration details vary with the particular browser and software version. If you are connecting:

From ... To ... Use instructions
on-campus station without off-campus access set Internet (off-campus) use the web proxy server to access the Internet
Undergraduate computing centre Internet (off-campus) none (web proxy is part of the lab environment)

Should I leave the web proxy server configured?
If you leave the web proxy service enabled in your browser configuration, you will be prompted for your MAC ID and password each time you start a browsing session at the point when you first reference a site that requires the proxy (the information is retained until you exit from the web browser).

If you have a cable modem or high-speed (ADSL) telephone modem, your ISP may have specified another proxy server which they provide to enhance your level of service by caching frequently-accessed information within their server to retrieve it more quickly. In such cases, you may have to switch back and forth between your ISP proxy setting and the McMaster web proxy server as needed.

What is a modem pool & lab printing service account?
The Enhanced Modem Pool (EMP) is accessed through a UTS server connected to a bank of telephone modems which requires that the calling individual identify the service account for billing purposes. Similarly, printing from a lab machine requires specification of a service account for billing, and the same accounting mechanism is used for both purposes for the convenience of students who would otherwise require two separate accounts. In both cases, the authentication to the accounts is provided through the user's MAC ID and password.

Anyone using the McMaster modem pool is given a University IP address, and hence can make use of restricted access resources without specifying a proxy account -- they are already identified through their modem account. There is a project underway to replace the modem pool with access through a service provider which will authenticate using your MAC ID before enabling a connection over the Internet. Once operational, the IP address provided will no longer be a McMaster one, and VPN use will be required if a University IP is needed. Similarly, MacOnline users are given University IP addresses, and hence do not require the web proxy server. Users accessing McMaster services from the Internet (as opposed to the EMP), receive non-McMaster IP numbers, and hence must use the web proxy or the VPN service to identify themselves as members of the McMaster community in order to access materials for which a McMaster IP number is required.

How and why are proxy service accounts & modem/lab-print service accounts related?

The same account database is used for proxy accounts as for EMP/print accounts (even though no billing is done for proxy account use).

Where can I get more information?

An overview of Access to UTS Systems policy is available.

Non-members of the McMaster community (visiting scholars) who have been given accounts by the Library to access Library on-line materials, may contact staff in Mills Library for assistance.

Author: Robin Griffin
Last Update: October 13, 2004

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